Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” is an iconic song that has ended every one of their live shows for decades. The title is shouted at countless concerts of every artist other than Lynyrd Skynyrd, including country concerts, club shows and more.
There are more than a dozen different versions of “Free Bird” release on various Skynyrd albums alone, varying in length from the demo version at 4:07 in length to an alternate take of the live version recorded for the One More From The Road live album at nearly 15 minutes in length.
The original recorded version from the Muscle Shoals sessions clocked in at 7:26 in length and featured harmony vocals from then drummer Rickey Medlocke.
“Free Bird” was written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant. Whether you listen to the short version or the long version, it is instantly recognizable from the first note, Gary Rossington’s slide parts and Collins’ solo.
A few artists have covered “Free Bird” giving their own take of the classic, also in varying lengths. Charlie Daniels and Molly Hatchet have covered it at between roughly 10 and 12 minutes. Country singer Wynonna released a 7:44 minute version on her Revelations album. Joey + Rory released a short 3:49 minute version that has an acoustic bluegrass feel. I love the Joey + Rory version.
In researching the various versions of “Free Bird”, I came across two other versions that I find quite interesting.
The first is from the Vitamin String Quartet, from there 2006 release The String Quartet Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd: This Sweet Home.
The second is from the Lullabye Baby Ensemble album 50 Greatest Baby Lullabies released in 2010. If you have Rhapsody, you can listen here:
Of course, nothing beats hearing “Free Bird” live performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Here are two versions from the 1970’s line-up and the 2000’s line-up.